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Green light for Swedish rail operator's 'graffiti database'

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 18 Apr 2011, 13:49

Published: 18 Apr 2011 13:49 GMT+02:00

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SJ had applied for an exception from the rule in the Data Protection Act which stipulates that only public authorities have the right to manage personal data relating to crimes and suspected crimes.

In its application SJ, which is a state-owned limited company, argued that the costs incurred for cleaning up graffiti and other vandalism are considerable.

Furthermore the firm argued that currently few of the cases are subject to legal proceedings and compensation claims are rarely successful. The lack of a means to collect information was cited as an underlying reason.

SJ plans to use its database to expedite police reports and also to identify preventative measures, such as increasing surveillance at rolling stock depots.

The database will contain images of the graffiti or vandalism, as well as incident information and costs incurred.

Personal details of suspects will not however be permitted to be included in the database.

The only information pertaining to the graffiti artist's identity would thus be their initials or "tag" included in their handiwork.

Story continues below…

SJ will be permitted to retain information in the database for up to two years or until such time as the matter has been dealt with by police and other authorities.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:27 April 18, 2011 by occassional
To all the graffiti so-called artists out there...get a life, get laid, buy a bike or something, die if you must.
14:35 April 18, 2011 by Rap43
Graffiti (not stupid tagging) is art.
14:44 April 18, 2011 by HeilNizar

I second that.
14:46 April 18, 2011 by Syftfel
I suer hope they nail these graffiti vandals hard! This is not "art" or "freedom of expression" or any other such liberal notion. It is vandalism, pure and simple, and the satisfaction the artist gets from upsetting the tax payers. According to study two years go in the US, most graffiti vandals are on public assistance, which means that the paint they use comes straight of yours and my paychek. Another very telling story went on CBS-TV a few years back where they actually interviewed graffiti vandals who had been arrested. One said: "We want these rich people to know who's really in charge". There you have it. It's a matter of control and power. Not creativity! Nail the good. And throw them in jail!! Graffiti is more destructive to society than you realize, and sends a message of chaos and lawlessness.
15:10 April 18, 2011 by Swedesmith
Hey Rap, where do you park your car? I'm feeling artistic.
15:18 April 18, 2011 by procrustes

Whether is or is not art is not the issue. The issue is the choice of "canvas." No one has the right to impose their art on anyone else. Before anything is done involving property other than ones own, permission is required.
15:28 April 18, 2011 by Syftfel
Rap43 also confirms my suspicion that there is link between "Rap"(Hip-Hop) and graffiti. Liberals have a tendency to discount this connect and will yell "prejudice" at slightest hint of a connection between these two undisirable phenomena. Bot are destructive to a civilized society in my opinion.
18:44 April 18, 2011 by Rap43
Actually, my car could use a paint job...

Those who try to say graffiti isn't art should, perhaps, read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banksy

One small example of pretty good street art I found recently is: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=1002225

The choice of surfaces probably has more to do with the age of the writer (artist)... I agree it is wrong to use someone's personal property as a 'canvas', but 'public' spaces are, by definition, public.
20:41 April 18, 2011 by Swedesmith
I don't too worked up about a concrete bridge or park bench getting customized, but beautiful old buildings or private property should be off limits.

I'm sure there are better places to express oneself. The bathroom stall for example.....no use standing upon the seat, the crabs in here can jump ten feet. Ahhhhhh, poetry.
20:53 April 18, 2011 by procrustes

Public places are public TO THE DEGREE that the public's democratically elected representatives control it. Public places can only be used as a canvas IF the public's representatives give their permission. Without permission, graffiti is a vulgar offense that must be corrected.

Yes, public places are owned by the public. The graffiti artist is not empowered to decide for what a public space can or cannot be used. My guess is that you understand this fully, but just don't give a whit. My guess is that you are an outlaw. If I'm mistaken, please accept my apology.
22:05 April 18, 2011 by johnny1939
Some of the graffiti is so large and intricate so one wonders how they did not get caught while doing it. Some of it is also done in quite dangerous places and w/ everybody w/ cell phones it would be hard to get away w/ it one thinks but they do all the time.
08:36 April 19, 2011 by mkvgtired
"Graffiti" can be art or vandalism. There are some truly awesome works of urban art where building owners gave their wall space to the artists. By the style of the art you know it was done by a graffiti artist. That being said, if it is not wanted it is definitely vandalism. Property owners dont need extra costs associated with owning their buildings. I know for a fact that Chicago alone spends several million dollars of public funds per year cleaning up graffiti.

Out of curiosity I've noticed all over Europe that graffiti is normally not cleaned up. Is it because it is considered a form of art?
11:03 April 19, 2011 by texaslass
I, too have noticed that there is graffiti all over Europe. I think it is not removed due to the expense.

In my hometown in Texas, there is hardly any graffiti any longer due to the fact that young people who have committed petty crimes like: underage drinking, smoking pot, small theft, doing graffiti are "sentenced" to clean graffiti. Instead of going to jail, they must spend so many hours cleaning the city as their punishment. The graffiti is cleaned usually within a week. Then taggers/graffiti artists are less likely to do it because it won't be there within a few days. As well, it has reduced gang crime because gangs cannot "claim" territory via graffiti.

Perhaps, this type of punishment could be enacted here.
16:55 April 19, 2011 by Borilla
@ texaslass

Very little graffiti in Texas becasue most can't read and write since W improved public education.
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